A three week refit has seen a welcome transformation of this basement bar opposite Batley railway station and at long last it's possible to again enjoy a beer at one of my favourite former haunts. I first used this bar some twenty five years ago as a prelude to nights in the Xclusive Club upstairs when I would doubtless have been swilling Red Stripe lager and wouldn't have given a toss about the cleanliness of the place or whether the decor was in keeping with the architecture etc etc.(Jesus what happened to me!) Going back even further, to the early seventies in fact, it was my father I believe who got the bank to loan the Longley brothers enough to convert the property into the original and very successful Pentagon club, and I distinctly remember being taken along aged about 12 to look at the finished interior with it's five-sided tables, chairs, dance floors etc - all very kitsch, but innovative kitsch in those early days of the discotheque! But enough of the nostalgia - the incredible thing is that in all that time the Cellar bar has hardly changed at all. Now I'm not a great advocator of change for the sake of it but there does come a time in every pub's life-cycle when a lick of paint, some re-upholstery and a general good sprucing becomes necessary - and believe me it's been a long time coming to this place!
After an all too brief spell indirectly tied to the Hambleton brewery near Thirsk, The Cellar Bar is now the latest venture of Dewsbury's West Riding Refreshment Rooms boss & Anglo-Dutch brewery supremo Mike Field. The pub has already been recognised by local CAMRA this year picking up the Spring Pub of the Season Award and is now set to go from strength to strength with it's new invigorated image.
The layout is essentially unchanged but some very nice features have been incorporated, especially outside where the new signage and patterned windows mirror the building's well preserved stone carved figures. Inside, the pool table has been retained, albeit in a much more pleasing setting, whilst the stone floor, beams and tasteful decor create the kind of comfortable drinking environment that until now only Ossett has managed to create locally - Copper Dragon, like Wetherspoons IMHO, seem to miss the point completely with their somewhat brash approach.
Beer wise there are a total of four pumps on the cask end of the bar offering an ever changing range, many from local micros but expect Black Sheep on pretty regularly. Our visit was perfectly timed to coincide with a new barrel of the outstanding Chardonnayle (5.1%) from Bob's Brewing at Ossett and very good it was too. The keg end of the bar should satisfy all other tastes with a decent selection of premium continental lagers plus a cider.
The official re-opening last week is to be followed by the bar's first ever beer festival at the end of the month thus offering a very good excuse to come and look at what's been achieved whilst sampling a larger than usual range of quality ale. Not to be missed!